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Command Sgt. Maj. Hardy hands over duties to Sgt. Maj. Carabello

Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Hardy, the first full-time sergeant major of the Maneuver Center of Excellence and one who helped guide the Base Realignment and Closure transformation at Fort Benning, handed over duties today to Command Sgt. Maj. James J. Carabello.

The ceremony came just five days before Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, commander on post, gives up command to Brig. Gen. Herbert R. McMaster Jr. Brown has been selected for promotion to lieutenant general and reassigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

“The experience I’ve had with Maj. Gen. Brown over the last 18 months has been awesome,” Hardy said after a ceremony in Marshall Auditorium at McGinnis-Wickam Hall. “Talk about caring, he cares and everybody knows.”

Hardy, 46, said it felt like he grew two inches after he handed the spontoon to Brown, which represented the end of his two years as command sergeant major of the MCOE.

With more than 600 soldiers, community leaders gathered for the ceremony, Hardy used the stage to also honor retired Col. Ralph Puckett, a decorated Ranger who served in Korea and Vietnam. Hardy announced the  renaming of Dixie Road, a major highway on post, as Col. Ralph Puckett Parkway,  between Lindsay Creek Parkway and Sightseeing Road near the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Hardy,  has known Puckett for more than 20 years. He won approval for the change from the secretary of the Army. Hardy said he wanted to recognized Puckett for being a mentor to him and what he does for Rangers.

“His leadership and his service are awesome,” Hardy said. “To be able to honor Col. Puckett is one of the highlights of my career.”

Signs should start going up on the four-mile stretch of highway within the next two weeks, Hardy said.

Puckett was almost speechless when he was called to the stage. “This is a surprise,” he  said.